Oncogenesis. 2020 Oct 10;9(10):89. doi: 10.1038/s41389-020-00273-z.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have an established role in cancer progression and therapeutic resistance. The p63 proteins are important transcription factors which belong to the p53 family, but their function and mechanism in CSCs remain elusive. Here, we investigated the role of TAp63α in colorectal CSCs and the effects of sulforaphane on TAp63α. We found that TAp63α was upregulated in spheres with stem cell properties compared to the parental cells. Overexpression of TAp63α promoted self-renewal
capacity and enhanced CSC markers expression in colorectal sphere-forming cells. Furthermore, we showed that TAp63α directly bound to the promoter region of Lgr5 to enhance its expression and activate its downstream β-catenin pathway. Functional experiments revealed that sulforaphane suppressed the stemness of colorectal CSCs both in vitro and in vivo. Upregulation of TAp63α attenuated the inhibitory effect of sulforaphane on colorectal CSCs, indicating the role of TAp63α in sulforaphane suppression of the stemness in colorectal cancer. The present study elucidated for the first time that TAp63α promoted CSCs through targeting Lgr5/β-catenin axis and participated in sulforaphane inhibition of the stem cell properties in colorectal cancer.